Yesterday I cleaned and rearranged my entire desk, so now the multiple Post Its and to-do lists are all zen, just like my mind will be when I start work every day. Coincidentally, today I activated my new phone (or half activated it, since apparently it takes ages for my provider to realise it’s sending cat emojis to a different device) and I’ve been thinking hard about which apps I want to reinstall and how I want to use the new phone. At the moment the home screen is so serene, with twice as much space as the old one… admittedly it’s twice the size, but it got me thinking that I’d really rather fill my phone with mindfullness apps and cookbooks than I would with work things or social media – which are sometimes work and sometimes personal… and always time-consuming.
I feel like getting a new device is the perfect excuse to embrace hippiness and quit my Instagram habit. Become one of those people who checks their mobile for half an hour each day, with the occasional game of snake while stuck in a queue. I always feel that although those people might not get updates from their Etsy shop or messages from Headspace reminding to keep their shit together, they must already have very peaceful minds. I want my phone to be a tool to enrich my life, god damn it, not something to which I am beholden just in case Sweet Pea the dog updated her feed.
Okay, bad example because Sweet Pea will only ever enrich my life. But you know what I’m getting at? I spent a large portion of my teenage years living with repetitive strain because I texted far too much; I often don’t sleep because I just had a quick check of Twitter in bed and two hours later I’ve got the Syrian civil war and Gerard Way’s massage Tweets papering the inside of my skull. And why do I reply to emails on my phone? I have a desktop, an iPad and a Windows Surface, all of which are easier to read, easier to type on and, oh yeah, won’t fit in bed with me.
Thing is, when push comes to shove – which it does too often – I have to work from my phone. It’s so accessible, and Instagram doesn’t work nearly as well from a desktop. I need all five email accounts on my phone, both Etsy apps and Tumblr just in case my zen desk space failed me and I only remember something important in the car on the way to a birthday. And what if the iPad, desktop computer and Surface break in a freak accident? I need the Internet for money, so boom, the phone is a lifesaver. I don’t even like leaving it at home on a walk because what if I get attacked by crazy people or trip over or find a stray dog and need to actually speak to someone?
Upon reflection I think that it’s all down to me not taking my phone to bed (or into the bathroom, or to situations where I don’t actually actively need to use it). I’m the one who decides whether or not I should check Facebook for the 10th time on that device that morning, and it’s down to me to choose not to. Like anything, my phone will only take over my life if I let it. The part of me that wants to be chilled and organised has to sit on the nervous news-seeking Internet junkie part of me. I’m fed up with only avoiding my mobile on holidays and at Christmas, and I know that if I spent less time refreshing my feed and more time properly working, I’ll be more productive in the long run.
So I’m telling you this hoping that by holding myself publically(ish) accountable, I might actually do it. Think of it as a new month’s resolution (speaking of, where in God’s name did September go?!). Have any of you ever tried minimising your tech use? Did you end up moving to the jungle to be at one with nature or did you flake out as soon as the new OITNB dropped? Please share your stories, because I think I’m going to need a support group for this.